“Stop giving energy to things you don’t want.” ~Wayne Dyer
I was born and reared in Charlottesville, Virginia.
When I was told to check the news to see what was going down in Virginia, I was horrified and made heartsick by what I saw and read. As I stood in a park at a party on a beautiful day, I reacted physically. I felt as though both my mind and my body – the essential “I” - was misfiring. I was trapped in a bubble of false existence in which I was hearing a misalignment of words and meaning. My mind and body could not make sense of or accept the news of what was happening in the town I love so much.
Like moths to a flame, almost everyone I know was drawn to this horror. Articles were posted about supposed “truths” we need to know about Charlottesville or its history. Comments flowed back and forth about hate groups and the people who were said to have prompted these troubles. People spouted about what is wrong with southerners and their history. Over and over, people blamed one politician or another. For the most part, the messages focused on hate, violence, anger, madness.
All weekend I struggled to understand the overwhelming feelings I was experiencing. Trying to separate the racket and cacophony of feelings that battered me. The bottomless pit of anger, the confusion, the hate was all too much. Did no one understand that angry posts and articles spewing blame and hate are not done from any basis that can help us exist together? As I lay in bed, tears streaming on my pillow, my feelings started to become clearer.
The anger and violence is not the fault of one person, one statue, one town, one group, one politician.
The blame and hate people send out every single day simply adds fuel to the fires of difference and isolation, of us vs them. The pictures comparing hate groups give them fuel. Spouting hate for this politician or that post gives them power, not you. As you announce your anger and hate, you blow more oxygen on their flame. I won’t do that. I can’t do that.
It has been said that anger brings change, but so does love, compassion, and understanding. Each human being has their own experiences and their own truth. We do not have to agree with or even to understand their truth. We do have the power to choose how we react to it.
I am first generation American on my mother’s side. She and her parents were on Hitler’s Death list, had to go into hiding in France, and finally escaped to America. On my dad’s side, we are almost a founding family of Virginia, arriving in this great country in 1609. Two people with very different backgrounds raised me to know love, kindness, compassion, and acceptance. I am not naïve about what is going on in our world, our country, and our towns, but I must choose love, not hate.